Identity Crisis

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From top: The PSC card; Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina O’Doherty (left) and Helen Dixon, Data Protection Commissioner

This afternoon.

On RTÉ’s News at One, Pat Leahy, of The Irish Times, spoke to Christopher McEvitt about his article concerning the Government’s decision appeal the Data Protection Commissioner’s report on the Public Services Card.

It comes ahead of a Cabinet meeting this afternoon whereby it’s expected that ministers will be briefed about this decision.

Christopher McEvitt: “Tell us a little bit about the sense of embarrassment felt by the minister in charge of this project, Regina Doherty?”

Pat Leahy: “Yeah, Government have been very quiet about this. Albeit that the report was issued during August – the full report, by the way, hasn’t been published, merely the announcement of the report by the Data Protection Commissioner.

“But there was calls for Regina Doherty, who’s the Minister for Social Protection, who had promoted and defended the use of the card during her period as minister, calls from the Opposition for her to resign, came under a lot of criticism, not just from Opposition politicians, but also from activists in the field.”

“She’s said very little about it since then now and frankly I suppose some of that period was during the traditional political holidays, during August. But we haven’t heard from her in any great detail about the Government’s response to it. But today we find that she is bringing a memo to Cabinet which will inform that Government intends to appeal this, or to challenge the findings of the Commissioner’s report in the High Court.”

McEvitt: “And presumably she has found good reason to appeal the Data Protection Commissioner’s findings on the Public Services Card, we have no idea, have we, as to what the legal argument would be?”

Leahy: “No we don’t have any sight of the detail of the Attorney General’s advice on it, but I’m told what ministers will be briefed on this afternoon, when they meet for the first Cabinet meeting since the August break, is that advice has been taken not just from the Attorney General’s Office but also from an external counsel engaged by the Attorney General’s Office.

And the advice is that the decision of the, or the findings of the Data Protection Commissioner, in relation to the Public Services Card, were wrong in law, that she exceeded her legal powers and that they are likely to be set aside by a court.

“So I think the next stage that will be taken will be that the Data Protection Commissioner will be informed of this and if her report is not withdrawn that then, which I suppose is unlikely to happen, that High Court proceedings will be issued.”

McEvitt: “Any response thus far to your story on the front page of The Irish Times today from those civil liberties groups, those rights campaigners who were very concerned and who, indeed, welcomed the Data Protection Commissioner’s decision or findings on the Public Services Card, i.e. that it was being used beyond its scope unlawfully, by the Government?”

Leahy: “Well, I suppose campaigners who had been saying these sorts of things about the extension of the use of the Public Services Card for some times felt vindicated by the Data Protection Commissioner’s report and many of them pointing out that this could spawn a series of legal actions against the Government.

“I suppose many of them will not be surprised by the Government’s decision to challenge he findings of the Data Protection Commissioner. I suppose at a basic, political, level, it kicks the issue into touch.

“I think there will likely be criticism by both the Opposition and activists on the Government’s decision but from the point of view of Government Buildings, once that criticism is out of the way and I suppose once this story has died down, then it means it’s not something that has to be immediately addressed by the Government until such time the legal action has resolved itself which, as we know, is not something, that generally happens very quickly.”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: ‘They’ve Been Collecting Data About Voters For A Very Long Time’

Put It On The Card

22 thoughts on “Identity Crisis

    1. V

      No Regina is out of her depth
      as too are the majority of the Cabinet
      The vast majority at that

      What I noted there particularly was
      …if her report is not withdrawn that then, which I suppose is unlikely to happen, that High Court proceedings will be issued

      So either Helen Dixon gives into Regina’s tantrum and takes back her findings to let one of the biggest simpletons in Government get her own way, or else ……

      Or Else?
      Get sued by her own Government in the High Court

      How can we let an independently appointed Commissioner be treated like a shabby gatecrasher

      is this how we should let Fine Gael brats treat other Independent Heads of “insert Office/ Function”?
      The Comptroller and Audit General?
      The Ombudsman?
      The Central Bank Governor
      The Revenue Commissioner?
      The Supreme Court?
      The Garda Commissioner?
      Uachtarán na hÉireann?
      County Registrars, Sheriffs and Returning Officers?

      Helen Dixon was appointed to represent all of us

      Not just the Fine Gael Donkies who by a sheer connivance and convenience for Leo Varadkar have found themselves landed in positions way way way beyond their capacity and skill set.

      In the real world Regina O’Doherty is at best. a shift manager in a Virgin Media call centre

      If anyone ever needed RTE’s complicity with Fine Gael special interests and wishes – OR ELSE explained

      there ye have it

      We won’t get a better opportunity to call out and call time on Ministerial overreach and abuse of their office than this

      1. Cian

        Are you saying that the Data Protection Commissioner should be able to speak infallibly?
        That the DPC office has the final say on all Data matters?

        1. V

          In this case yes
          and I tell you why

          She issued the draft report a year before, there was plenty time for confrontation to be ironed out then

          Withdraw the report or face a legal challenge?

          That might be they way it goes at Branch and Constituency level Fine Gael
          But its no way for a Ministerial office to behave

          This Government are treating this Country like a school yard
          – making up rules and moving goal posts as they go along

          1. Cian

            I assume that there was contention on the draft report too and the two sides have been in communication since. Both side seem to think they have the legal high-ground. Neither side has backed down.

            Anyway, the legislation explicitly says that if the DPC issues a notice and you are not happy with it then you need to appeal to the courts. “face a legal challenge” is a bit strong.

          2. V

            Very easy to sue to get a decision that doesn’t suit your agenda overturned when it’s taxpayers money underwriting your action Cian

            But that’s only a minor point here

            This isn’t the first time a decision that doesn’t match the Fine Gael party line and forces them to deny special interests drive their agendas
            Apple Tax being one
            And let’s not forget what Michael Noonan has done to Citizens of this Country in the name of his party and its supporters
            Same for Lowry and his own self interests

            This has the capacity to be Fine Gaels political catastrophe the way the Bank Bailout was the eFFers

            What is the point of finding and appointing Independent Experts for anything if ye’re just going to bin their advice or in this case sue to get the outcome you want

            Suing to prove a point or to get justice is one thing; and rightly so

            But suing using taxpayers to get nothing else but your own way and save face is bollockology of the highest order

            T’would be more in their line to get a National House Building Scheme out of the ground instead of trying to hide their ignorance and inability to get anything right

          3. Fearganainm

            It’s strange all right that Regina seems to be hinting at litigation – she’s skipped the ‘having yer wan pulled aside by a couple of gardaí for the old menacing, hissed whisper in the ear’ stage entirely.

            Doherty has all the intellect of a gnat. A gnat that’s hopelessly out of its depth.

    1. Ron

      Oh please. If 10,500 thousand homeless people and the state making decisions in Health that is actually killing citizens didnt bring the impotent Irish electorate to the streets, then some breach of their personal data which the majority of people don’t even understand is hardly going to work.

      The majority of Irish people are happy for this freak show Government to continue and the reason for that is, whilst the likes of Regina and the other Merry Incompetents are at best akin to a struggling middle manager in a retail store, that’s still one better then the people that vote for her.

      What I’m saying is that when you have below average intelligence from the majority of the electorate, people like Regina and her ilk appear as the cream of the crop. We are what we vote as a people and we consistently vote for incompetence, inexperience and ineptitude which describes the electorate perfectly

        1. Ron

          Yea that’s right. That’s the important thing to take away. You don’t even realise your demonstrating my point. Heaven help us

          1. Ron

            @Papi… Do you hear that?? It’s the whoosh sound of everything going over your head. I’d say if your brain was dynamite there wouldn’t be enough to blow your hat off. Now sit down, your embarrassing yourself… again..

  1. Hector Ramirez

    Would the Data commissioner have gotten legal advice herself before finalisation on report. If so, who gave the legal advice?

  2. Panty Christ

    How can the attorney general advise that government challenge the DPC report when the same attorney general advised Shane ross to drop the idea of demanding a psc card for a driving licence? And, government took DPC advice on setting up the activation aspect of card which is now redundant. Hey look over there, shiny things.

    1. Rangina

      The challenge seems to be on the basis of pre-GDPR law and Shane Ross would have sought advice after it kicked in.

  3. eoin

    Gwan Helen, take them to court and if they don’t delete the data, seek Regina’s committal, it’s what we all want.

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